Building an eco-village in West Texas
by NICK ROSEN on NOVEMBER 5, 2010 - 6 Comments in COMMUNITY

Blake Smith wants to builds an eco-village near Abilene West Texas, and he is looking for others to join him. Blake has already moved into a house he built himself. He blogs about it, and has posted some lovely drawings and interesting ideas at

Blake spoke to Off-Grid about his plans: “For now, the idea is to create rent free living areas for people to come and stay as long as they like… the idea being that this free time would enable them to explore their own talents… contribute to the invention of an intensely “glocal” culture… one which is aware of and in communication with the world at large… but focused on smaller community as the main people of which they are a part… of course, this isn’t something I can script… it just sort of may or may not happen… but I want to set up opportunities. (more…)

Soccket and see
by NICK ROSEN on NOVEMBER 3, 2010 - 0 Comments in EVENTS

Hopes and dreams

It might sound daft, but a soccer ball which doubles as a battery has just won an innovation prize from Popular Mechanics magazine.
Soccket is a soccer ball which has an inductive coil inside it. When the ball is knocked around, kinetic energy is stored as electricity and will provide a few hours of power for a simple LED lightbulb.
It sounds like a Christmas gift idea, at best, but it is causing serious interest in Africa, where” field trials” are being carried out. (more…)

PhD in living off-grid?
by NICK ROSEN on NOVEMBER 2, 2010 - 0 Comments in EVENTS

Here are two University press releases issued today that may be useful if you live in Iowa or Texas.

DES MOINES, Iowa, Nov. 3 — Drake University issued the following news release:

A free seminar for women farmers and food-based entrepreneurs will be held at the Drake University Law School on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

“Women are the primary drivers behind the explosive growth of the good food movement in the United States, and Lisa is a perfect example of this with her family-owned, off-the-grid B&B and farm,” said Leigh Adcock, executive director of Women, Food and Agriculture Network.

Lisa Kivirist, director of the Rural Women’s Project (a venture of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service), will present “Sowing Fresh Seeds” at 7:30 p.m. 2621 Carpenter Ave. (more…)

Voluntary Simplicity movement
by NICK ROSEN on OCTOBER 30, 2010 - 0 Comments in COMMUNITY

VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY: The Poetic Alternative to Consumer Culture (24 min) from NO WAY Productions on Vimeo.

Samuel Alexander, the Walden fan who we wrote about in an earlier post has been in touch with a copy of his essay, titled: “Deconstructing the Shed: Where I Live and What I Live For”. In December it will be published in the journal Concord Saunterer (dedicated to the works of Henry Thoreau).

Samuel has given us permission to include the essay in the next newsletter, in a few days. Here is a summary of the essay so you know what to expect. If you are not already registered, why not do so now? (more…)

Can solar crash the grid?
by ALEXBENADY on OCTOBER 29, 2010 - 1 Comment in SOLAR

Solar peaks can swamp the system

Its obvious that renewable energy has the potential to undermine the grid’s grip on our lives. But that’s mostly an ideological thing. Until this week no-one suspected that renewable energy could cause real physical damage to national power infrastructures.

According to the Berliner Zeitung, the head of Germany’s energy agency DENA is warning that there is a real danger that solar power, could crash Gemany’s ageing electricity grid. (more…)

How ARCO helped kickstart the pot industry
by NICK ROSEN on OCTOBER 27, 2010 - 8 Comments in EVENTS

ARCO's furry business partners (Dave Katz far right)

Briceland in Northern California is hippie country, home to thousands of bombed-out remnants of the 1970s counterculture. They arrived from all over America to turn on and drop out. And to make money they grew hundreds of tons of of marijuana each year, a process that may well be about to become legal, and an even bigger business than it is at present.

On balance its a good thing the pot industry may be taken out of criminal hands, but it will be a wrenching change for the pot-growers of Northern California, and with that change a-coming its a good time to tell the story of how those same pot growers helped save the planet……. by enabling the birth of the solar panel industry. It goes back to a deal many years ago between an avid pot smoker and a young, eager oil industry executive interviewed exclusively in this article for the first time. (more…)

Excerpt from OFF THE GRID – Inside the Movement….
by NICK ROSEN on OCTOBER 25, 2010 - 2 Comments in COMMUNITY

Hi, and thanks for your comments on the previous section. In the latest excerpt from Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America – (Penguin 2010), I visit an Amish community in Kentucky. Look forward to your comments:

Possibly the best-known off-gridders in the United States today, besides Daryl Hannah, are the Anabaptist Christians, also known as the Amish or Mennonites. Every morning TV show, at one time or another, has featured these quaintly dressed, anachronistic Americans going about their business in a horse and buggy, or making cheese the old-fashioned way. (more…)

In an Emergency, do I head for country or city?
by NICK ROSEN on OCTOBER 25, 2010 - 2 Comments in URBAN

Who would you want on your team?

The conventional wisdom is that if the system breaks down for reasons of economic collapse, or some sudden natural disaster, then the best place to be is the countryside, in a rural community with provisions and the means to grow more.

However a few folks on different discussion boards have been questioning that – wondering whether actually the city might be a better bet…..I have opened a discussion about that over in our forum.

Here are two views from the off-grid Facebook page:

Noreene Bailey-Treece says: I am in the country and would prefer to be there (in an Emergency. I have medical training. am used to going without so called vital services. i feel i would fare better at home in the country. As for shelters.. as a parent i would not take my children to one. there is too much risk and danger there for them. ie the superdome in New Orleans. (more…)

Australian off-grid home design
by SUPERJOE on OCTOBER 24, 2010 - 1 Comment in URBAN

Nice...but not real nice

Its not quite a McMansion, as its appearance is too distinctive, but is this $500,000 home a case of greenwash, or just naive?

An Australian design company has won a local eco-building award for its huge Convertible House, which looks like an upmarket Nissen hut, with a curved, corrugated iron exterior; the wrinkly tin is ubiquitous in Australia — think water tanks and sheds. (more…)

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